CIO Markus Bentele: How Mahle is introducing SAP S/4HANA

CIO Markus Bentele: How Mahle is introducing SAP S/4HANA

Harmonizing data and standardizing processes globally is what the IT BOSS of the automotive supplier Mahle has committed himself to. […]

“Our digital transformation is not an IT project, but a strategic business project. It is the basis of the Group strategy and the technological basis for this is SAP,“ says Mahle CIO Markus Bentele. The automotive supplier wants to bring together data from around 240 site silos and make it usable with the help of new processes. To this end, the company is migrating its five separate, highly modified ERP systems to a single platform based on SAP S/4HANA.

The goal is to harmonize processes worldwide and roll out S/4HANA throughout the entire company by the end of 2026. Bentele wants to create a new data model that can serve as a global basis for analytics. Inconsistencies in data structures must be broken up and their complexity reduced in order to be able to react quickly to new business conditions.

In his presentation at the Handelsblatt annual conference “Strategic IT Management”, Bentele said that in the future, 95 percent of the global SAP landscape should run on the standard products of the software company. Changes should only be made where there are no ready-made solutions yet. According to Bentele, in the current version of the HANA template to be rolled out, the proportion of modified components has already been reduced to one tenth.

The CIO expects to be able to update the entire landscape within a year if there is a release change. So far, it has taken several years.

The platform is intended to generate real-time insights into the existing data and thus enable better decisions. Research and development, for example, can react more quickly to market requirements, distributors have the opportunity to develop global sales strategies and better serve customers.

Preparations for the S/4HANA rollout from 2022 have been underway since 2018. In a three-year development phase, the team led by the IT manager developed standardized processes that are to run worldwide in SAP S/4 HANA. The new business template was successfully validated in 6,600 test runs within six months.

To develop the template, Bentele founded a core team with more than 150 employees. They are divided into twelve working groups, each of which supervises a department, including sales, finance, production or logistics. Ten support workstreams are available to assist you in areas such as compliance, analytics and reporting.

A governance board, which is in contact with all specialist departments worldwide, monitors the development. It is led by a dual leadership of business and IT employees. The next step is to adapt the organizational and process structures in all markets to the rollout. The result: A total of 50,610 process variants were reduced to 482 uniform processes.

For the rollout, Bentele relies on a mix of classic and agile methods. “In such a large company, such a complex project cannot be completely agile. Planning needs milestones and structure,“ says the CIO. The entire project structure is therefore laid out in the waterfall scheme. In the individual workstreams within the project, however, teams of ten to 30 people work in agile mode with sprints of around three weeks.

The Stuttgart-based Mahle GmbH is one of the 20 largest automotive suppliers in the world. In 2020, the company generated sales of 9.77 billion euros and employed 72,184 people.

*Jens Dose is editor of the CIO magazine. In addition to the core topics around CIOs and their projects, he also deals with the role of the CISO and its area of responsibility.

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